Fighter Squadron 14 Tophatters (Colors 6173)
By Thomas F. Gates
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1993 83 Pages
PDF 92 MB
On the cool, slightly foggy morning of 13 June 1923, LT Ralph Ofstie swung himself into the cockpit of an anchored seaplane near the seaplane dock at NAS North Island. This had to be the day! His mechanic began to pull through the propeller of the seaplane-fighter in preparation for starting its engine. The new propeller was going to work — it had to work! LT Ofstie had almost broken the record yesterday. Taking off from San Diego Bay. he had attempted to set one of the records for Class C seaplanes and after rounding the first twenty-five kilometer (km) course at 132 mph (114 knots), he had begun slowing down. On completing 200 km he tried to catch up. but as the San Diego Union had reported:
Old Man Hard Luck, who has been perched on the propeller rips of LT Ralph Ofstie's fast T.S. battleplane, once more cost this naval pilot a world's speed record. He went down with a bang with another shattered propeller, the fifth prop the T.S. plane has whirled into kindling wood since the start of the world's record flights last Wednesday.
By mid-morning on 13 June. LT Ofstie had completed a flight that he knew was a winner. His propeller held up and he rounded the 100 km course at 105 knots and finished the 200 km course at almost the same speed, fast enough to set a pair of new world records.
LT Ofstie and his teammate, LT E. P. Brix, who set an altitude record of 10.850 feet in a float-equipped DT-2 torpedo plane, were part of a team of six Naval Aviators chosen from the Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet (AIRONS), based at North Island in San Diego harbor. They were determined men with a goal of breaking a series of world seaplane records. Flying F-5L First World War flying boats. DT-2 torpedo bombers and Navy/Curtiss TS-1 seaplanes off the calm waters of the bay near Coronado. these aviators broke no less than twenty records during the week of 6-13 June 1923.